My first twenty-games-in article was kind of a bummer. Objectively, the Caps aren’t playing great hockey right now. There’s really no way to get around that fact, but there’s also no reason to get hung up on it either.
I have a suspicion that fans and analysts tend to overestimate how far a bad team is from becoming a good team. My pet theory is that any bad team isn’t more than three years from contending for a championship – if they make smart decisions. Making smart decisions starts with identifying problems, and today’s exercise is good at identifying problems.
Let’s look at how each forward plays with each defenseman, and maybe we can figure it out.
Okay, here we go.
That’s a lot of information, but put together I think it all informs one pattern: while the core of the team (Backstrom, Ovi, Carlson, Orlov) still seems good, the Capitals have profound depth problems on their roster, particularly on defense. Those problems could be partially mitigated with changes in deployment and usage (i.e. coaching), but they cannot be wholly solved without personnel changes (i.e. management).
For the moment, Barry Trotz and Brian MacLellan are in detente. Barry Trotz is not making any substantial changes to his lineup despite overwhelming evidence that it’s not working, and Brian MacLellan has appealed to the Washington Post’s most credulous columnist to help him manage expectations. Until one of them blinks, there will be no improvement.
Headline photo: Amanda Bowen